What is going to add value depends as much on the type of renovation as the particular housing market. And Mr. Miller said he tells clients that “personal taste and market taste” can be different.
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New roofs and insulation have great financial returns, said Jessica Lautz, managing director of survey research at the National Association of Realtors, which teamed up last year with the National Association of the Remodeling Industry to determine the value of renovations.
Ms. Lautz said people who would like to recoup more of their investment would do better by aiming for boring. Putting in new insulation and garage doors or replacing a roof, siding or windows adds value and saves energy.
But new kitchens and bathrooms make owners happy, and their value is more difficult to discern.
According to the Realtors report, the average price of a kitchen renovation is $60,000 and carries a “joy score” of 9.8 out of 10. Yet, the report found, only 67 percent of the price is recovered when the owner sells the house. A bathroom renovation typically cost $26,000 and has a joy score of 9.3, but only 58 percent of that will be recovered.
Stan Humphries, chief economist for Zillow Group, said he found in his research that high-end bath and kitchen renovations were among the worst investments (though not as bad as finishing a basement).
On the other hand, he said, a “midrange bathroom remodel” could reap a big increase in value. These are renovations where a fairly bland bathroom is made into something “you’d bring your guests into,” he said. The return is $1.71 for every $1 spent.
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